RALEIGH, N.C. (April 14, 2021) – It was a sight-fishing clinic on Shearon Harris Reservoir in Raleigh on Wednesday, and pro Alton Jones of Woodway, Texas, was the professor. The Texas angler boated 12 bass weighing 45 pounds, 9 ounces to dominate the final-day Championship Round and win the top prize of $100,000 at the Major League Fishing (MLF) General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops in North Carolina. Jones won by a 15-pound, 5-ounce margin over pro Jeff Sprague of Point, Texas, who caught eight bass totaling 30-4. Sprague, however, was not disappointed in his finish as he earned the top Big Bass Bonus of $100,000 with a 5-pound, 3-ounce largemouth.
Just 23 minutes into Period 2, Jones caught a 3-pound, 3-ounce bass to move into the top position on the leaderboard and he never relinquished it. The tall Texan showed MLF NOW! viewers why he has long been considered one of the top sight-fishing anglers in the game.
“This feels so, so good. It’s been a while since I’ve won a Tour-level event like this, and it was a very special day,” said an emotional Jones when he came off of the water. “After my practice time, I knew that I had found several key areas that had the potential to be really special for this event, if I could just make the final rounds.
“When we did our morning ride-through this morning and I got on the trolling motor, I found about 10 3-pounders in my first pass through the cove, and I thought to myself, ‘you know what, this could actually happen.’ I didn’t know if they were going to bite, but if they did I was going to have a chance. And sure enough, here I am. I still can’t believe that I’m the Heavy Hitters Champion.”
Jones saw the majority of the fish that he caught on Wednesday on beds, and managed to boat a dozen keepers flipping an “old-school” Texas-rigged Canyon Plastics Gitzit tube (green-pumpkin with purple and black metal flake).
“I really like throwing a tube during the spawn – it’s a bait that will catch a 2-pounder, a 3-pounder, but it will also catch a 10-pounder,” Jones said. “So, it’s good bait to fish for numbers and size. My Kistler rods were also very important – I used a Kistler Z Bone. That rod is super-light, super-sensitive, and super-strong and helped me out a lot today.”
Jones also shared some of his sight-fishing prowess with the crowd gathered at the takeout ramp.
“Every fish that I caught today was an individual,” Jones said. “I had to figure out what each fish was doing, and how to work that particular fish. That’s one of the things that I love about sight fishing – you treat every fish as an individual. What makes one fish hot, the other fish will ignore. So, it’s kind of a thinking man’s game. It’s a stealthy game, because you can see them, but they can also see you. I try to hide from the fish, and I’ve got a few other little tricks that I like to pull and today, it all worked out for me.”
Second-place angler Jeff Sprague was also emotional and exhausted after a long week of competition.
“I scratched by every day this week,” Sprague said. “The first day at Lake Jordan was great – I caught so many fish and had a phenomenal day. The second day, we literally scratched by and barely made it into the Knockout Round. Then, in the Knockout Round, to tie for the last position in and to get through via a tiebreaker. And now, on Championship Day, to catch the big bass and win 100 grand and finish second overall, this has just been a stellar week.”
The top 10 pros from the General Tire Heavy Hitters event in Raleigh, North Carolina, finished:
1st: Alton Jones, Woodway, Texas, 12 bass, 45-9, $100,000
2nd: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, eight bass, 30-4, $25,000 + $100,000 Berkley Big Bass Bonus
3rd: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., seven bass, 26-8, $20,000 + $50,000 Berkley Big Bass Bonus
4th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., six bass, 22-12, $18,000
5th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., six bass, 22-8, $15,000
6th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 18-7, $14,500
7th: Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., five bass, 17-15, $13,500 + $25,000 Berkley Big Bass Bonus
8th: Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 14-2, $12,500 + $25,000 Berkley Big Bass Bonus
9th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., three bass, 9-14, $11,000
10th: Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., one bass, 3-11, $8,000
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 57 bass weighing 211 pounds, 10 ounces, caught by the final 10 pros on Wednesday, which included two 5-pounders, 13 4-pounders, and 42 3-pounders caught from Shearon Harris Reservoir.
The MLF General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops was hosted by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.
Television coverage of the General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, July 17 on the Discovery Channel. A one-hour special episode of MLF Inside Heavy Hitters will also air on CBS in late 2021. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (May 10, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) pro Takahiro Omori of Tokyo, Japan, caught 16 bass totaling 35 pounds, 11 ounces, to win the Championship Round of the 2021 MLF USAA Patriot Cup Presented by Berkley in Kissimmee, Florida, which premiered Saturday on the Outdoor Channel. The win was the second MLF Cup win in as many years for the Japanese pro, who also claimed the 2020 Wiley X Summit Cup Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches Title at Lake of the Ozarks.
Omori said that he did the bulk of his damage on two baits – an unnamed 1.5 squarebill crankbait and a vibrating jig with a swimbait trailer. He fished boat docks, around the bank and in pockets in 3- to 5-feet of water.
“I love shallow-cranking, and I was thinking the conditions were perfect for me,” Omori said. “The 1.5 did it for me. It’s my most trusted bait right now.
“In the final period I come into the back of the creek where the wind was blowing, and I said if this doesn’t happen right here, I’m done. But, it did.”
With two Cup wins under his belt, the veteran Japanese angler now knows that he can excel at the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format.
“I wasn’t that good in the beginning. It took me seven years to really understand this format, but now that I do, I love it,” Omori went on to say.
The final eight anglers at the 2021 USAA Patriot Cup Presented by Berkley in Kissimmee, Florida, finished:
1st: Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, 16 bass, 35-11
2nd: Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Calif., 15 bass, 33-8
3rd: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 15 bass, 26-9
4th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 10 bass, 23-7
5th: Terry Scroggins, Palatka, Fla., 12 bass, 22-1
6th: John Murray, Spring City, Tenn., 11 bass, 19-8
7th: Mike Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J., nine bass, 16-14
8th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ala., nine bass, 15-1
Complete results along with photos from the event can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Wiggins caught the Berkley Big Bass of the day – a nice 8-pound, 9-ounce largemouth that came on a finesse worm.
Overall, there were 97 bass weighing 192 pounds, 11 ounces caught by the final eight pros during the Championship Round of competition on Lake Bellalago.
The 2021 21 USAA Patriot Cup Presented by Berkley was hosted by Experience Kissimmee and premiered on the Outdoor Channel as six, two-hour original episodes each Saturday afternoon debuting on April 3, 2021, and running through May 8, 2021.
All six episodes of the event are available for viewing on the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) streaming app.
The event was shot over six days in November 2020, in Kissimmee and featured 28 MLF pro anglers competing on three different fisheries across the region, including John’s Lake, Lake Toho and Lake Bellalago. The fisheries are unknown to the anglers – they do not learn where they are competing until they arrive to the launch ramp each morning of competition.